THE effects of large gatherings over Eid as well as multiple home visits will be apparent in the days to come and will largely depend on how far people complied with the SOPs. Only recently, as the virus ravaged India, and even now continues to bring unimaginable suffering there, officials in Islamabad warned we could be in a similar situation if precautions were not taken. The variant across the border, B.1.617.2., spread rapidly just as India was proclaiming it had beaten Covid-19 — a terrible fallacy that had lulled many into a false sense of security. This misguided belief, propagated by India’s top officials, was a major factor behind the mass gatherings and indifference to precautions — a trend that was witnessed in Pakistan some months ago when compliance fatigue and huge political and private gatherings were in full swing.

Pakistan cannot afford to be complacent. Our healthcare infrastructure and medical manpower do not have the resources to cater to a high volume of critically ill Covid-19 patients. We have already lost over 200 doctors and at least 30 paramedics — an alarming figure given that Pakistan’s overall recorded infections at each peak were far lower than badly hit countries like the UK, where nearly as many healthcare workers have died. The high number of medical personnel deaths in Pakistan reveal the gaps in our healthcare system. With a new study showing multiple virus strains in Punjab, there is even more reason for concern. Given our lack of healthcare resources, the government’s focus must be on ramping up testing, SOP compliance and vaccine coverage. Mask-wearing, social distancing and limited gatherings, too, are key to keeping infections low. Superspreaders like the Kumbh Mela in India have been linked to the crippling third wave of infections. Even when Pakistan emerges from the third wave, it should ensure that gatherings are restricted and mask-wearing is compulsory. Above all, the government must make all-out efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated. As vaccine supplies come in, a mass awareness campaign should begin. This is essential, as the return to any kind of ‘normalcy’ is underpinned by mass immunisation. While the government is doing a good job of managing vaccination centres, the real challenge lies in persuading reluctant members of the public to get the jab. An awareness campaign that educates people on the dangers of contracting the virus and the protection the vaccine offers will encourage reluctant citizens to get themselves inoculated.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2021

Opinion

Story of the last tamarind leaf
Updated 22 Jun 2021

Story of the last tamarind leaf

These journalists speak for all the troubled features of India’s democracy that Mr Modi didn’t tell the G7 about.
Understanding abuse
Updated 22 Jun 2021

Understanding abuse

Condemnations have been rare while there is no debate on the prevalence of such abuse beyond the Mufti Azizur Rehman case.
The roots of hate
Updated 21 Jun 2021

The roots of hate

The reference to being ‘out-populated’ is a popular theme in modern neo-Nazi and white supremacist thought.

Editorial

Describing OBL
22 Jun 2021

Describing OBL

FM Qureshi’s non-committal reply to question about Osama being a terrorist or a martyr has sent the wrong message to the world.
22 Jun 2021

A neglected sector

THE PTI legislators joined forces with opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly the other day to take their own...
22 Jun 2021

Air safari

THE resumption of PIA’s air safari flights to Skardu will hopefully attract international and domestic tourists,...
Poll consensus
Updated 21 Jun 2021

Poll consensus

If the govt is reluctant to take part in an APC on poll reforms, then it must ensure that parliament can be used for this purpose.
21 Jun 2021

Global displacement

THE number of globally displaced persons shared by the UN’s refugee agency in a report released on Friday is...
21 Jun 2021

KP budget

THE KP budget 2021-22 is a sort of please-all document that hands out something to almost everyone in the hope of...